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August 19, 2013

Effective press review of some state responses to SCOTUS Miller ruling

The AP has this notable new article on the wire discussing at lengthy some of the response at the state level to the Supreme Court's Miller ruling last year prohibiting madatory LWOP sentences for juvenile murderers.  Here is an excerpt:

[There are] an estimated 2,100 so-called juvenile lifers across the country — inmates sentenced to lengthy prison terms without parole — who hope for a reprieve in the wake of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Miller v. Alabama. The decision determined such sentences are cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional. The court ruled, 5-4, that the proportionality of the sentence must take into account "the mitigating qualities of youth," such as immaturity and the failure of young people to understand the ramifications of their actions.

In part to head off an avalanche of expected appeals, at least 10 states have changed laws to comply with the ruling. In June, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill eliminating mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile killers, who are also ineligible for the death penalty. The new law requires juveniles convicted of first-degree murder to serve at least 25 years in prison while still allowing judges the discretion to impose a sentence of life without parole. Juvenile offenders convicted of first-degree murder are also allowed to petition for a sentence modification after serving 30 years.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed a bill in February specifying that juveniles convicted of murder would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years in prison. Last fall, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation giving judges options other than life in prison when sentencing juveniles in murder cases. Other states with new juvenile sentencing laws include Arkansas, California, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah, according to data collected by the National Conference of State Legislatures this summer.

In Connecticut, [there are] about 200 inmates who could be affected by the high court's ruling, a proposal that would have allowed parole hearings for teen offenders who've served at least 12 years or 60 percent of their sentence died this year. There are plans to resurrect the bill next year.

But the prospect of possibly shortening sentences has been met with mixed reaction from relatives of crime victims. "If you can't believe a judge's final decision in a courtroom, who can you believe?" asked John Cluny, whose wife and teenage son were shot to death in 1993 by his son's 15-year-old friend, Michael Bernier. Bernier was sentenced to 60 years for the murders. Cluny calls him "a cold-blooded killer."

Despite good behavior in prison and years of reflection and maturity, Cluny questions giving such killers another chance at freedom. "You're in prison for what you did, not for what you've become," he said.

August 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Permalink


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Thank the lawyer for this massacre by immunized, less culpable adolescents, less culpable due to their frontal lobes not having reached full maturity, according to the Supreme Court dumbasses. Also, not a peep from the standard roster of race whores.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 21, 2013 5:45:30 AM

Under 123D, all these members of organized crime should have been dead shortly after age 14. The hit to tourism for the US is well deserved. Thank the lawyer on the Supreme Court.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 21, 2013 5:56:41 AM

I say go case-by-case. Some are obviously not eligible for compassion... others obviously are. As for the sentiment, "You'e in prison for what you did, not what you've become."... well, actually, legal confinement has mostly ceased being designed for punishment... except that the environment of incarceration is punishing. Confinement is deemed necessary in order to keep ordinary citizens from being exposed to a known threat to society. Let me point out, to everyone, that rehabilitation of any person's harmful behavior should make you happy, not sad. Now, if you are in emotional support of a victim of a heinous crime, and oppose any sentence modification for any reason... well, I understand how you could get stuck there... for a long, long time... not happy at all. After all, your world is diminished forever because of that scumbag's actions. I can only urge you to try to become a larger person... to try to weigh your personal grievances with the benefits to society that surely would result from rehabilitation, and re-purposing, of individuals who went the wrong way.

Posted by: Vick Gardner | Nov 17, 2013 12:34:16 AM

Oh yeah... who am I? I am merely an advocate for sentence review... and reduction. I've stayed in touch, and support, of Nicholas Leach, incarcerated in a Texas prison since 1985... since he was a teenager... a "certified adult". I've seen him mature. I like to think I've helped him grow into a good man. I know for sure that he is a different person now. In Nick's case, he pled to protect the real shooter... teenage gang bravado. How much of a danger does that make him now? How much "punishment" is adequate for lying? In all cases, we should consider that brains actually change physically as we age. All of us will change our ways somewhat, given time. Sentence review... I don't think it will affect most inmates. But, there are bound to be a few who would meet even stringent criteria. For Nick, 75 years (agg) is too much. He is ripe now.

Posted by: Vick Gardner | Nov 17, 2013 12:50:58 AM

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